It all started when Victor Bergeron grew up above his parents' grocery store on San Pablo avenue in Oakland. A childhood accident may have cost him a leg, however he kept his penchant for telling colorful romanticized stories.
1932 – With a nest egg of USD 700 and carpentry help from his wife's brothers, the ebullient Victor built a cozy pub across the street from the store: "Hinky Dink's" was born. He quickly became a popular host, as did his potent tropical cocktail concoctions and delicious Americanized adaptation of Polynesian food.
1934 – Two years after he first began mixing drinks, he embarked on his first Polynesian
adventure to Hawaii where he immersed himself in the island living, culture and traditions. Upon his return, he had one and unique goal: "Inject the spirit of the island into our everyday lives": this is the birth of Trader Vic's.
1936 – When Herb Caen wrote "the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland""Vic" had became "The Trader" transformed "Hinky Dink's" into a tropical retreat with artifacts he collected on his extensive travel, complete with a showpiece Chinese oven, that would be the symbol of Trader Vic's cuisine. He also put into practice his research on rums and served simmering plates of island style cuisine and quickly became the first fusion restaurant concept.
1944- Among Trader Vic's more tantalizing legacies is the Original Mai Tai, the bracingly refreshing rum cocktails he created in 1944 and introduced to the island in the 1950's. Tahitian for "the very best" Mai Tai became the slogan of Trader Vic's!
By 1946, the world had beaten a path to Vic's door, and Lucius Beebe wrote an introduction to Trader Vic's book of Food and Drinks published by Double day that year: "Trader Vic's…is more than an Oakland institution. Its influence is as wide as the Pacific and as deep as a Myrthe Bank Punch."
Today Trader Vic's have opened 25 Polynesian-style restaurants around the world which are as popular as the first one, steeped in the traditions of the island.